Zhuang Zi from the 3rd century BCE said “We are born because it is time, and we die in accordance with nature. If we are content with whatever happens and follow the flow, joy, sorrow cannot affect us.”
This is what the ancients called freedom from bondage.
In our modern world, we hear a lot about leading a balanced life. We hear so much about balance it can almost lose its true meaning. Often it is code for being very busy and trying to fit everything in. Not really balanced at all. One of the ancient philosophies associated with Chinese medicine is Daoism which suggests we live in a state of flow and be less focused on controlling the outcome of our lives. The paradox being that the things we do achieve will be true to us and what indeed supports and serves us, enabling us to share more of ourselves, in our work and private lives. One of the very welcome benefits of living this way is good health, physical and emotional health, even longer life.
Daoism speaks of change as a constant.
We see it daily in the turning of the day, as night becomes day. We see it as we move through our lives, it never stops. But we can become very attached to the way things are, sometimes so connected we cannot see the way to the next place, or what the next best step might be. So, attached that we stick with what we know even if it is not serving us well. It is familiar, safe. Sometimes life must shout very loudly at us so we can hear what is on offer. Things can become very out of balance as this process unfolds. It can affect our physical and emotional health significantly.
In Chinese medicine, we observe that the different organs are associated with mixed emotions. When we are living in harmony, each of our organs is supported and can function optimally. The heart, for example, is said to house the spirit, it has a strong relationship with a bright, alert mind, clarity of thinking. When things are out of balance, there can be anxiety, insomnia and general agitation, even mania.
The liver is said to oversee the free flow of things, it is also the strategist. When our lives are happy, we can plan effectively. When they are not anger can become a problem.
The kidneys have a strong relationship with fear.
When we overwork and constantly push we deplete the kidneys vitality and our own life force. The spleen can be taxed by overthinking, going over and over and over things. This can cause a foggy head, fatigue and a feeling of melancholy. The whole body can feel heavy and damp. It can feel as if we are living in a fog and are stuck not moving forward.
However, when the flow of life is respected the organs support one another and importantly support the whole being. Life is vital and alive. The energy of our lives flows and changes with grace, and we are able to live a fully productive and balanced life.
About Philippa Youngs
Philippa Youngs has been educated and trained by some of the world’s most experienced Chinese Medicine Practitioners, Acupuncturists and Myotherapists at Australia’s prestigious universities. The dynamic natural health practitioner has spent decades honing her craft with a passion for helping families achieve their goals. To find out more about Philippa go to: http://philippayoungs.com.au
Well hello 2016 you sexy son of a bitch. How are you? Are you surviving?
I would like to begin my saying I wish mine had started off with a positive bang. But there is a fine line between Philosophy and Reality, the paradoxical duo that have us stumbling around in First World problems with a gin and tonic in one hand and Dr. Seuss in the other.
Disclaimer: I make no apology for the depth of the following conversation- there IS NO small talk ( as a friend of mine would say). If you would like to walk in the meadow together and chat about the weather please put on your TV or Google it, cos it ain’t going to happen.
I would love to say that 2016 started off joyfully, however that would be giving it the congrats it barely deserves, I shall be complimentary enough to grant it the respect it needs so far- it has bought abundant lessons and invaluable reflections. Life gives you lemons? Our lemon tree is throwing them like a bitch, its a dodge-ball game without the lemonade! No, that’s not true, watch me make that lemonade, it shall be the finest lemonade in the all land, tart with a hint of zesty sweetness, the elixir of life…
I have heard it mentioned in some circles that the current position of the world is in a “quickening.”
There are a lot of things going on in our atmosphere, our humanity and cosmos creating quite a commotion. Whether you subscribe to this or not, I have seen some shit go down already that is breathtaking, like an operetta of “Uh Oh”. Astrology charts should be shouting in capital letters “Hang onto your seats ladies and gentlemen and kiss your bums goodbye” Okay maybe I am being melodramatic.
But if you look around you there is a lot of stuff going on all over the world, both positive and horrendous. Everyone is on their own journey and popping their heads over into other people’s journeys. Some of those head popper-overers are sticky beaks, some are saviors and some are just narcissistic voyeurs, either way it’s a busy place to be.
I have images of our Guardian Angels walking home from work, exhausted, wings drooping and shaking their heads in bewilderment, then steeling themselves up for a new day at the office like Rocky prepping for the Clubber Lang fight.
I have had moments of wanting to pack up my favorite people, fellow Concave Polygons and run for the hills where we can make moonshine, whistle Bowie tunes (this is an artform, try and whistle Golden Years from start to finish. RIP major Tom x) and discuss the Politics of Jedi balance. This is true.
But I didn’t. I stayed in the Burbs and did the washing, paid the bills, mopped the floors etc etc. Time to be mumsy, a wifey, a friend, an aunty, a daughter, a sibling, an entrepreneur, a writer, a candlestick maker…
November and December bought Light a Spark campaign, to raise money for the Alfred Hospital and with that gorgeous journey with my lovely new friend Regina, my family and I found ourselves promoting, wrapping, packing and delivering Candles all over Australia to raise funds for the Neuro ward at the Alfred Hospital Melbourne, and we didn’t stop!
Busy tidbits and family commitments had me up to my ears in candle wax and ‘what- not’s’ which left little time for much, top that with brilliant business success for the year, a Dad who was still alive and recovering after a very scary near miss, new friendships and exciting times and then….then came the Christmas tsunami.
Christmas is usually a time of honoured blessings, fun fervour and rejoicing our Christian faith in our household.
This Christmas was different. Not a nice different either… the faith was there but whoa…there were personal upheavals going on around us so fast it was crazy and from every angle. Relationship breakdowns with friendships, new business deals souring, hurt, confusion, anger, arguments…our world became a sudden and unexpected battleground with us sitting here dazed and confused. I won’t go into personal detail but its been a bit awful.
Then there has been the quiet realization creeping in too that the “next check” was coming, and this always brings with it restlessness.
The momentum starts to build of what will or won’t be, and if you have ever tried to take a dog back to the vets for a check after having a procedure you will know that wee pup is going to drag its backside. Backside dragging I am good at, as well as using the mantra “IM FINE.” Lesson #657: Health Crisis do not make you immune from humans behaving badly, including yourself. Lesson #658: Getting sick can scare other humans and make them want to not like you anymore, if you die they will hurt so step away as quickly as possible. My Question for the teacher: But sir, what happens if you have no intention of dying and you plan on living until you are at least 98? At least! Response: can you hear crickets chirping?
To cut it all short I basically swung into the New Year exhausted, and I will acknowledge right here I was warned.
Loved ones around me warned me, my body warned me. It wasn’t from work or physical exertion, it was from trying to please everyone and everything, every need and most of all trying to bow to the my own needs and demands of Time.
Time has been my friend, my blessings, my curse, my companion, my alarm, my reminder, and then I realized after Christmas it had morphed into becoming my Keeper. A Master of my mind; always just there in my thoughts…time, time, time. I appreciated it as a reminder for gratitude but it grew into a heavy yoke, threatening to cut off my circulation. Even in gratitude and hobbling to take full advantage of every moment and savor every piece is a little whisper of ‘what if’ and ‘maybe’ and even ‘soon’. Weird huh?
That in amongst the haste of being positive you are allowing the negative, acknowledging you might not make it, but then you might…I am finding there really is paradox in everything, light and shade.
Being grateful for time also includes knowing the downside of the lack of it. You can’t have popcorn without the heat you know? But I am shoving popcorn down my throat and its starting to make me choke. And if any of you have ever seen me eat popcorn you will laugh; imagine a Dyson vacuum cleaner and you might get an idea.
The ticking was getting too loud on that damn clock. I needed practice at patience. So often I want to bite life off in chunks but it isn’t meant to be bitten, for me its meant to be nibbled. At the moment it feels like gnawing. Held back. Because this is the fight I find my mind in: I need loads more time.
I want to see what blue eyes looks like old and wrinkly, and there is so much fun to be had with these humans I created with my body.
They are the coolest humans, truly they are. Gifts of love, abundant, cheeky, complaining, whining, burping, fighting, hugging and whatever else they feel like doing, they are the most kind, humorous and intelligent, musically attuned humans I know. I hope they stay that way. I pray this place doesn’t wreak too much havoc and they remember their inner; that when the world screams MORE they will listen when their hearts whisper “less”. I want them to be strong enough, brave enough to make their difference in the world and I can’t help do that or lead them there when I am shoveling popcorn in my mouth and fighting an aneurysm poppage. Makes me about as useful as a bloody ashtray on a motorcycle, seriously.
This tribe of mine; we have countries and places to travel to, educationing (I made that word up) to be had, differences to be made. Endless Spanakopita conversations to be had in coffee shops with blue folk, (I’ll explain later) mountains to climb together, ashrams to see, people to help… You see how my mind works? I get myself all knotted up worse than Bert from Sesame Street with his paperclip collection.
Ahem…Its time for a rebalance.
I need to listen to the Less to make a difference so in my bowing gratitude I am now endeavoring not to think about time.
To relax a little, not think too much about the sands in the hour glass and go with the flow, see where it takes me. How? I am not 100% sure on that yet. So off I went to my trusted mentor and Kinesiologist and had an energy rebalance, I then spent days reflecting, writing and in prayer and meditation. This rebalancing -replaced angst and deep hurt with understanding, compassion and calm, a sense of peace. I felt like a kitten that was fed so much all I could do was roll into a ball in front of a warm fire and sleep. There is no other feeling like that of peace is there? I received a swift yet kind lecture about self care and the old Oxygen mask chat. Have you heard that one? If you are in an airplane and its going down, you should place the oxygen mask on yourself first then on your little ones, because otherwise you lose consciousness and are no good for anyone lol. This is a hard one when you are bred into a society that tells you self love is selfish. Again, learning people…learning!
Slow down; the message has been loud and clear. My body is so very tired, my immune system is pretty wrecked and it all needs some attention as well as my nervous system.
There is not much I can control at the moment but I have been given multiple options for growing and healing, why wouldn’t I take them? It doesn’t serve me well to be disempowered and helpless, restless and anxious. What does serve is the sense of peace I get when I listen. There is an entire universe within if we listen closely. Like Horton hears a Who, the question is whom is on your speck and are you listening closely?
My speck has helped me make a decision to create my own retreat over the next 4 weeks, allocating practice to some of what I did when I was in rehab a couple of years ago; dedicating the whole day to the healing process. The next month is going to be about healing, loving and mending. It already has these things however more concentration is going to be spent on daily scheduled meditation, yoga, reflection, mindfulness, aromatherapy, playtime with my little family, gentle exercise as well as some powerful brain training exercises getting both sides firing and the most important; prayer time. I am pretty sure that this is a recipe for healing lines and complete recovery.
I want my body mind and spirit to be fully pumped, in 4 weeks time, no matter what they tell me, no matter what happens, in any capacity I will be prepared, ready and my body and my mind will be such a watertight vessel that it can manoeuvre the waves, whether they be smooth and glasslike or stormy and full of icebergs. I am going to ignore time as much as possible, and I am going to get one with the Concave Polygon. So this is my plan, I am going to ride into 2016 like a Jedi, my arms and legs might be flying around as awkward as a drunken giraffe on roller-skates but it will be done! I shall also re-watch the Goonies and Harry Potter with my tribe and nibble slowly on popcorn with a gin and tonic in one hand and Dr. Seuss in the other!
In the words of the Great Seuss:
“And when you’re alone there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.”
“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?”
“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
Panic, small child panic. The only way it fades is to give my heart over to grace, surrender all and sleep. This is my prescription for a hurting heart. Fear is my enemy and yet it reminds me again of my purpose, my plight. It makes me realize that this is the condition of being human; we lapse back into the business of life and we forget, is it a fault or a necessary facet of survival?
But I cannot sleep. I am sitting on a hard plastic chair in a sterile room.
I do not like to feel vulnerable. I do not have the coping skills for it. Vulnerable on some level equals harm. Why is this? Vulnerable makes me want to tuck in my wings and go home. I do not want her to be in this room, she has to come home with us today healthy. I want to cling to her fast and sure. The words Vulnerable and Her trigger something within that makes tears form, moistening my eyes. My heart feels swollen and inflamed, just short of anger.
My internal force wants to tuck her up and take this moment away quickly and without pain – does us no good its a pointless exercise of the mother. We are sitting in a waiting room.
He told us it has grown. The growth in her Brain has grown. He is going to see what is to be done. It’s not an area they would be interested in operating on, its too deep. Too deep. What does that even mean? I’ve been told I can be too deep. Too deep is a bad thing? Yes, isn’t great. What is it then? I had too deep and I was blind and had to learn how to walk again. I had too deep and I am here still waiting for Fred to work and keep me alive each day. I’ve seen what 160 staples in my head look like.
Something comes to mind after I look at my husband’s face. His face is ashen and has turned a sickly white transparent sheen very quickly. His lips have thinned and he looks at her, looks at me, looks at the ground.
I look at my beautiful daughter; Her faith is built on a rock, and her hearts desire will come to pass, under grace and in a miraculous way is what I think as I look at her beautiful big 17 year old eyes, too wise for one so young. Nothing can defeat God, therefore nothing can defeat her. God’s plans for her are built on a rock. What was hers in the beginning, is hers now and ever will be hers. We cannot lose anything which is born from love. She is not lost to me.
I am reminded by a passage I read recently by Florence Scovel Shinn that said
“ To believe in something enough that it cannot help but manifest is to know the power of faith. Just to imagine is not enough. You must back your imaginings with every ounce of courage, love and conviction your heart can muster. This is when you will truly find peace.” I then remember a little plaque I have someone gave me when I was in rehab recovering from brain surgery that said “Be taken up and thrown into the sea, and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you”- Mark 11:22
Am I doing this now? Am I believing? Am I doing the right thing by her? How can I soothe her and him? These two parts of our whole are hurting in front of me. So I do what I am reminded of, I squeeze their hands and believe that no matter what he comes in and says- it iS GOING TO BE OK. We cannot be defeated. We are not alone, we are not vulnerable. All will be well. I back up my imaginings of what will come to pass- that no matter what he says we can handle it.
She sits in front of me, fighting back tears, and looks at us apologetically. I squeeze her hand and remind her its ok to cry and she responds in a way typical of our weird genetics (my sister and I both suffer from this) a nervous onset of giggles and a wiping of the tears, then a smile, sad but a smile. We sit there for 12 minutes knowing it has grown but as we all look at each other something is changing- we are remembering our resilience, remembering how toughened we have all become and mighty through this journey we have all been on together.
He enters the room and says that’s it all ok, he’s checked with the surgeons -the growth is within an acceptable range, unless there are any new symptoms they don’t need to see her again for twelve months. The growth could just be from two different people reading the scans or a different perspective. It’s a good outcome, don’t worry. Here are a list of her symptoms. One of them is- if she doesn’t wake up. A small amount of vomit hits the back of my throat. Like the tears, my body reabsorbs this unwanted fluid.
I fire questions at him like a Captain firing a semi automatic and he answers every one of them, some with surety, some nervously. He is a nice young man.
We try process on the way home, all of us with gusto; talking, teary, yelling, angry. Discussing accuracy, second opinions, what does this mean, that mean. How does she feel? Are we good? Yes we are good.
By the time we get home we are all exhausted. We are all relieved. She is ok. She’s going to be ok. She came home.
She does her homework.
I cook dinner, He takes out the rubbish and feeds the dogs. He hugs us all lots that night. He gives awesome hugs.
We return phone calls. How is she? She’s fine, all good for another 12 months. It cannot be explained ; this day that we have had. This confusing paradox of a day, of roses and leeches. How do we have the words when we have not yet fully processed it ourselves?
When I go to bed I close my eyes and give thanks for my family’s faith, it continually gets us through these times in tact. I am revealing so much here in this pondering it scares me, I am being vulnerable because there might be one of you out there that can understand, can feel it too and know that its going to be ok. For some reason this is why I write.
This is a message in a bottle.
This sense of faith my little tribe has is like a well of spring water in a desert. We draw from it what we need, it gives us reflection, tools and peace. I lay there and picture in my mind a big bubble made up of every color of the rainbow and inside are epic particle of feelings of peace, grace and calm and I send it out to the world asking for it go to every parent and child who is unwell.
We are on the road less travelled, but we are on it together.
I have been a very lucky vegemite. I just got back from a Family Holiday that included laughter, smooches and all the nutbag stuff that stems from being a part of our little tribe. I also got to catch up with some beautiful friends I haven’t seen in a really long time. While I was basking in the sunshine and love of these two friends, it occurred to me that in their own way they are exceptionally kind at heart. Then I started to think how lucky I was that I had so many friends that many have one thing in common- true kindness, a- go- out -of -your-way sort of kindness. Pondering on Kindness stopped me thinking about Fred and the Case of the diabolical Aneurysm. So bear with me and come along on my little escape from reality, hold my hand and lets walk together…
As parents and guardians of little humans we all strive in some way for them to be good people, to grow into being constructive adults, nice adults. The awesome thing to recognize is that all children are born good, children are naturally and intrinsically good. However once they have been in the world for a bit, environment starts to play a huge part in the formation of social skills and empathy. Some kids just seem to have a natural empathy for others that burst forwards like a water spring, whilst for others it doesn’t come so easy. How do we teach them effective skills? Is it simply by example or lesson? So what is kindness? A concept? An ideal? How do we teach it?
When we take all of these notions we have of kindness it all boils down to one question: What does that person need to assist or help them, make them feel better? We could even say that Kindness is an act of servitude to assist in either a small or large way.
In our Western environment we really do live in a convoluted world of ME, even as a kid it’s a busy place full of school, sport, curriculum, sleeping, eating, play-dates, movies, birthday parties…the list goes on, which for busy kids or just most people in general if we are honest – being kind or going out of our way for others on a daily basis isn’t a priority. Sure you can be pleasant and do nice things when the occasion arises, when it is requested or obvious, but to make Kind Acts a daily goal and a priority most likely isn’t on the agenda.
So what if we taught kids that the Kindness Formula has a necessary ripple effect that is crucial to living a healthy and happy life, as important as Vitamin D, Fresh Air and Good water? I will go one step further and say we should teach everyone. Because I don’t know about you, but there are poison spitting lumpy caterpillars in my life amongst the butterflies. (They don’t always look like caterpillars though huh?) Yup, the growed up ones we cooked earlier. Kindness doesn’t come easy to some. Some of us just have a bit of kindness lacking in our life, we’ve forgotten its important, seriously life can be bloody tough and you don’t always have the fuel in the tank to go the extra distance for another person. Or do you?
In 2010 political scientist James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and medical sociologist Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University undertook an in-depth study into group dynamics and kindness that turned up some fascinating results. They revealed that kindness is in itself contagious and has contributed to the evolution of co-operation and Groups with altruists in them will be more altruistic as a whole and more likely to survive than selfish groups. From a scientific perspective, Fowler added, these findings suggest the fascinating possibility that the process of contagion may have contributed to the evolution of cooperation.
Fowler is quoted as stating acts of giving were “tripled over the course of the experiment by other subjects who are directly or indirectly influenced to contribute more.” They suggest that behaviour of kindness spreads and is a successful element for co-operation. Not a bad suggestion for a group of humans sharing a planet together one would think? James H. Fowler, and Nicholas A. Christakis. Cooperative behaviour cascades in human social networks. PNAS, March 8, 2010 DOI:10.1073/pnas.0913149107
So, kindness is contagious and necessary for the development and evolution of humans on the planet, (whoa heavy stuff!) So it stands to reason that the act of Kindness becomes a priority and a skill we teach our kids to give them a solid foundation for social living, without of course ignoring the fact that it feels really good.
So how do we go about it? A suggestion I heard about years ago and we integrated with our kids and became my catch cry when dropping them off to school; “Don’t forget to do something kind for someone and learn something new!”
Each night on the way home or at the dinner table we would ask them what act of kindness did they do and what did they learn? If they “forgot” to do an act of kindness it then gave a chance to think about how they could have. If they did do an act of kindness and learned something new it gave them the opportunity to feel really good and positive about their actions and see what they were “putting out there” and achieve a sense of accomplishment.
Something pretty magical starts to happen; they start to see the Ripple Effect for themselves. This action and process is an illustration of how kids can plant their own seeds and in weeks to come the kindness and learning grows and comes back to them. They are rewarded in subtle ways which in turn teaches them a whole new level of social skill and inner self learning, guidance and reflection and even gratitude for other’s kindness to them. Before you know it, acts of kindness become a daily routine.
Another benefit is that it propagates a great attitude; No matter what sort of day you’ve had, as long as you’ve shown an act of kindness and learned something new it has been a Successful and Worthwhile day. Don’t forget all of the great things Goal setting does for kids too…the list goes on. This little exercise before and after school has many layers of worthwhile outcomes for emotional growth and development all stemming from one small action.
Tip: You might get some eye rolling and resistance, don’t let this deter you, trust in the process of what you are doing! You can even make some rewards if needed to kick start it a little bit. Remember that if you make it routine your kids will retain it and integrate it eventually.
Another method I tried recently that was so successful I couldn’t believe I hadn’t tried it years earlier, it certainly would have saved me a couple of near nervous breakdowns and money on wine lol. Seriously you ask no kidding around; TELL ME!
We ran a House Competition- the person who was the nicest and the kindest for a week got to choose whatever we had for dinner Friday night and a sweet of their choice. I admit I didn’t think this was the strongest of incentives, I thought only a trip to Disneyland would induce what I was asking… but what transpired was so hilariously successful it replicated a cross between the Hunger Games and Mary Poppins on steroids. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a house of boys and more often than not; regardless at this attempt I call parenting – the fighting that goes on between my offspring is so common place that the lounge-room resembles Fight Club more than the Swiss alps of Sound of Music, but I am telling you this house comp worked! After 5 days I had a non –conflicting peaceful calm house. Fighting had reduced by an estimated 70%, conflict resolution had progressively improved in epic proportions, my nerves were lovely and crazily in-tact and the house felt like an over 80s knitting party on a Sunday. I am not kidding!
The acts of kindness that went on were blissful to see, albeit at times they were faking it till they made it- (always fun to watch.) But it seems my children have enough of a competitive streak to make the challenge a success. The irony of them trying to out-do each other with kindness would have the most impressive passive aggressor bursting at the seams! But all humour aside- it worked. Surprising but true.
Lets face it, as parents we want our tribe to be kind, we all crave peace and calm and for our kids to be happy positive contributors. Perhaps a bit of well -positioned bribery laced with competition and good intention is good for the soul. I think the most important thing to remember is that we are all in this soup called life together, none of us is perfect and putting our heads and hearts together makes all the difference.
Some Questions to get you going when stumped with acts of kindness for your little humans:
Did you see someone sad at school today?
Did your teacher need help with anything?
Was there a way you could have helped?
Could you open the door for someone? Give a compliment? Help carry something?
What are the ways you could help at school?
Did you accept someone different today?
How could you support your friends?
How do you stay positive with your teachers?
Did you see someone in your class that needed help with something?
Remember Do something Kind for someone today and learn something New and don’t forget to try this on big humans too. You can replace the “Choose the Dinner” with “Choose the sport on TV and all sorts of other interesting Grown Up things, this is especially good for Romantic Relationships (My tongue is firmly in my cheek right now!….) If you want to be really super kind, you could change a legislation and pass a new law even! Now wouldn’t that be exciting?
Do you like being married? Was it fun growing up as a Heterosexual? I bet it was awesome, you were never questioned about the un-natural state of your romance or progression in front of God and Your Tribe making a commitment to have and to hold, honour and keep from this day forward, in sickness and in health. It is so much more convenient isn’t it? You didn’t have a choice you were just born that way! Lucky duck! The strange thing is, its a kindness to let all sorts of people have this choice too, let us not be greedy! Let us be kind and let us be human, its good for the soul I promise, and it won’t hurt anyone.
PS- putting the toilet seat down is truly a kindness. No really. Put it down.
Thanks for indulging me in my little escape. Sending you all blessings and lots of copious laughs because a giggle a day can keep the doctor away. x
I have been going through a bit of a process, a great word – from Latin processus “a going forward, advance, progress.” Moving forward, I hope that is what I’ve been doing. It might be slower than a herd of turtles, but I am getting there.
So much has been going on and I’ve been in observer mode. You know sometimes in life when everyone and everything in it spins around so fast you feel like you are watching the carousel? Deciding when to jump back on, you take a running leap and BANG you missed it. Deep breathe, ok this one looks good, I will jump on HERE….nope gone again.
If I am really honest, there have been a few days where I want to gather up my children and Lothario and escape from the Carousel up into the branches of the Faraway tree into the land of Always & Hugs. We would stay up all night laughing and eating copious amounts of pop corn, we would never get fat because the Queen of Always & Hugs has exiled Sir Carbohydrate to the land of NoFun.
Didn’t take me long did it? There’s the gambler then there’s the rambler, I have the art of verbal diarrhea refined.
I am avoiding. Procrastinating- Latin for “Not getting the shit that needs to be done, done.” I went to the Doctors, I went for an MRI a few weeks ago now. The MRI- a lovely big tunnel of magnetic genius. Like the Wizard of OZ behind the curtain They work their magic to look at amazing pictures of your upstairs grey matter. An hour of lying in an enclosed space, with ear muffs while big noisy machines click and grind around you, shrouded behind space age plastic and metal.
I pretend I’m in a space Odyssey capsule, flying faster than the speed of light to the Land of Chocolate & Johnny Depp (have you heard darling? Its mean to be just de-lish) Then you wait a few hours, They don’t make eye contact normally. Because they know and you don’t, and they are beautiful, dedicated and often polite people, so they don’t want to acknowledge that you know that they know. So everyone pretends they don’t know. I actually find it quote socially awkward sometimes.
Sometimes I feel like patting their arm and saying “Look I know what’s in there, don’t worry, I am cool with it, really. Go have a coffee, take a load off.”
On other days I feel like looking at them and saying “Can I just ask? Have aliens infiltrated it? Because I’ve been wearing some pretty bloody thick aluminum foil around there and It doesn’t seem to be doing the trick,” and signing off with the Captain Spock hand gesture and walking mysteriously off into the distance with my arse hanging out of my gown. That’s usually on a bad day.
Lots of people ask what this stinky aneurysm actually is. So if you want to be bored senseless and I really hope the doctors aren’t reading this as it is WAY TOO SIMPLISTIC- SO LAYMANS TERMS LOL.
Ok lets do this quickly …the aneurysm is a big misshapen balloon in my Brain but more precisely in my Internal Carotid Artery, facing opposite my Opthamalic artery and many other little arteries that feed all the blood supply to the front of the brain including the eyes. Picturing? So basically if it ruptures I would die very quickly or in some medical staff’s words I would wish I was dead (yup these words have been used). Normally aneurysms can be clipped, or coiled to seal off the blood going into it. I’ve already had this done back in 2012. This is a completely different aneurysm. Imagine a balloon filling and filling until the wall gets too thin, or even a hose with a bubble in the side wall. If blood is filling into it, depending on the size and location it weakens and can break. So back in November I was told it was a case of uh oh– no clipping, no coiling, no neurosurgery, but at the same time it was such a nasty little bugger if they did nothing I would die. The Doctor’s estimate at the time was that I would be lucky to get to Christmas.
SO they put FRED™ in, a Flow Diverter, to take all the blood away from the aneurysm and redirect the flow. When you take the blood flow away the aneurysm can shrink and occlude itself or in lay-mans terms shrivel up and is no more. They did this by threading a catheter all the way from my groin to my brain and placing two Diverters in there.
They were very honest with me, the nature of this brain aneurysm was so severe that they were wanting and praying that this could save my life or prolong it a bit. Life or a bit more time. Either way was better than Christmas. (Try telling that one to your three kids, no thank you very much).
To cut another long story short, this is not like a brain tumour. Its not about getting bigger, and if it doesn’t get bigger its ok, or if it gets a little bit bigger its ok. This cannot grow. If it grows any more – no more Kirsten. It’s that simple.
Harsh huh? So it definitely hasn’t grown because I am typing this blog, and unless the NBS has developed at super speed and Heaven has WIFI so far so good.
SO FRED is working well enough that I am still here. The not so great news was that blood is still entering the aneurysm. It isn’t shriveling or occluding. They expected it to be doing this by now or even be gone. It isn’t. Its still filling with blood…
Yours truly was so excited before this news because I wanted to report back it is gone. All gone and I am going to revert back to normal land. Who was I kidding? First I’ve never been “normal” per se. Secondly that would be really greedy considering I have already received multiple miracles and Thirdly I am not going to question the process. Fourth- “hello my name is Kirsten and I might be a perfectionist”. Hmph.
Good news is- it might take 12 months to happen. Scary news- the artery might not make it.
So there it is. I have a time bomb in my head every day. I could live until next Tuesday or until 2050. This time bomb has also been my golden opportunity and key to looking at my life in all sorts of different ways. Its true I appreciate all the little things and the big things too with a new light. My educated guess is that the bomb will be dissected and stop ticking before the year is out. I hope so. The red wire or the blue wire? Anyone’s guess. They have done everything they can. But maybe October 2015 some scientist will release a laser beam that can penetrate and vaporate blood flow in an instant. Who knows? Now there’s an idea…
If one more person says “Or you could get hit by a bus tomorrow, none of us know” I will scream. I really will. Like a “back away now- she’s going a funny colour” kind of scream. No, not really. Have you ever seen me cross? Apparently according to my Lothario it’s an amusing event to watch.
I mean this with absolute love and good intent but for the purpose of understanding- Please take a big uncomfortable chemical lump of C4 attached to a super big bomb, strap it to your chest while sitting at a Russian Roulette game, take a big breathe and listen to the ticking of the clock. Can you hear it?
Just a tip- it ticks louder when you tuck your children into bed, when you see a sunset and you hug someone. It even gets caught in your throat when the dog does something cute or your brother makes you proud. I have to sit in my car and watch my son play tennis, because otherwise i get misty eyed. When my little niece CC runs up to me (every single time she see’s me) and gushes “Oh I LOVE YOU Aunty Kirst” looking at me like I am amazing and hugging me like a vice I get a bit scared my heart will explode and I will make a big mess. Not kidding, its kind of pathetic. So the bomb ticks… (like sands through the hour glass?? so dramatic, i should really get a grip)
The ticking gets super loud at the midnight hour too. I talk to it, I make it my friend and I do all the right things to ease my body, mind and keep calm so I can carry on. BUT, when mortality is in your waking moments, through your day and in your dreams you are not fully submersed. You are not positioned on the carousel like most of the population. Your thinking IS different. Your experience of life, spirit and love is different. Your relationship with the idea of death changes dramatically. The different is good, bad, ugly and positive. It just is.
So I was fine. I am good, no really I am fine. I kept it together the day I had my review and MRI. Lothario and I even made silly jokes in the waiting room together. Hugs are good when they are for people you think are crazy awesome aren’t they?
The trip home was fine. We were all ok. Then I woke up at 2.00am and had a little walk outside, pacing the back yard in the Wintery chill and had a serious convo with the Bearded Wise Guy upstairs. I asked him if I could hand back the ticking thing. I then realized he didn’t give it to me, so how could I give it back? It was a human thing, this ticking business. Humans can break did you hear? Their parts can and do stop working sometimes. It’s the darnedest thing. Its complicated.
So back at the 2.00am backyard Q&A session I took some long slow breathes asking for guidance and in true Frozen form the answer came “Let it Go” so let it go I did. Many, many tears came. Huge ones, little ones, fat ones, Forrest Gump sideways ones. They fell for a long time, and with each tear I could feel the tension and fear draining away. It was okay, I was not alone. I was surrounded with a grace and peace that felt strongest in my chest. As my tears fell, I could feel my heart unravel just enough to let some faith back in.
I wiped the tears. I made a cup of tea. I asked for some really good stuff to happen to lift my heart. Within hours I had received 3 pieces of news that made my day.
One of these involved a gorgeous young friend of mine called Lilly who went to the Sydney Writer’s festival and met a writer we both adore and respect. I’ve known this poppet since she was born, she is one of those sparkly shiny people you feel blessed to be able to hug every so often and this news we shared made my day.
The second was that my Nanna was ready and waiting at the local nursing home. She moved to live around the corner. From me. Nellie Florence, my beautiful wonderful Guardian Angel was brave enough to move from Far away to Close. From the Land of Bendigo to the Land of the Blowing Cold Winds (otherwise known as Geelong) My inner child was so flipping excited it was on a sugar high, red cordial and ants-in-my-pants joy that had me unable to sit still! She’s alive and around the corner for me to hug whenever I want to.
The third was that I would live the day out and get to hug my children, feel their warmth and their breathe on my cheek and walk through their mess. (The mess bit only lasted until the Wednesday if I am really honest)
And such is life. It is a roller coaster or carousel as my daughter would put it. So I have jumped back onto the Carousel. It took me a few weeks to get the nerve again and be friends with my vulnerable, scared self while embracing the inner warrior who trusts in God and maintains her faith about jumping onto a moving object. I even had a weekend with great mates and laughed until it really hurt and it was so good.
And Here we are.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to share. Check out our new support page on this website and I wish you well.
The other is Annie L , our tyre –men connection, our Kerry connection, our brain connection and now our heart connection. I want you to know that you have been in my prayers, blessings and thoughts EVERY DAY since we walked passed each other in Ocean Grove- a glimpse is worth a thousand words. My blessings to you in your journey are in abundance. You are amazing and you are not alone and I hope your heart is peaceful, you are getting enough daily laughter with your Vitamin D along with lots of love and a shrinking tumor xxx